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Panorama haifa.jpg
View from Mt. Carmel of the Shrine of the Báb and the city.
Coat of arms of Haifa.svg
Emblem of Haifa
Haifa is located in Israel
District Haifa
Government City
Hebrew חֵיפָה
(Translit.) Heifa
Arabic حَيْفَا
Population 264,900 (city)
1,039,000 (metropolitan area) (2007)
Area 63666 dunams (63.666 km2; 24.582 sq mi)
Mayor Yona Yahav
Coordinates 32°49′0″N 34°59′0″E / 32.816667°N 34.983333°E / 32.816667; 34.983333Coordinates: 32°49′0″N 34°59′0″E / 32.816667°N 34.983333°E / 32.816667; 34.983333
Website [1]

Haifa (Hebrew: חֵיפָהAbout this sound Ḥeifa ; Arabic: حَيْفَاAbout this sound Ḥayfā [2]) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 264,900.[3][4] Haifa has a mixed population of Jews and Arabs. The Arab population used to be predominantly Christian, while some of the Jewish population arrived from Russia.[5] It is also home to the Bahá'í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[6][7]

Haifa, built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, has a history dating back to Biblical times. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE).[8] In the 3rd century CE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands: It has been conquered and ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, and the British. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality.

Today, the city is a major seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa covering 63.7 square kilometres (24.6 sq mi). It is located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, and the city plays an important role in Israel's economy. It has several high-tech parks, among them the oldest and largest in the country,[9] an industrial port, and a petroleum refinery. Haifa was formerly the western terminus of an oil pipeline from Iraq via Jordan.[10]


The origin of the name "Haifa" is unclear. According to historian Alex Carmel, it may come from the Hebrew verb root חפה (hafa), meaning to cover or shield, i.e. Mount Carmel covers Haifa.[11] Another possible origin of the name is the Arabic word حفَّ ("haffa") which means "beach", or the word حيفة meaning the "suburb" or "side of the city".[12] In turn some see a resemblance to the Hebrew word חוֹף (hof), also meaning beach, or חוֹף יָפֶה (hof yafe), meaning beautiful beach.[13] Some Christians believe that the town was named after the high priest Caiaphas, or Saint Peter (Keiphah in Aramaic).[11]

Early history

Jars excavated at Tell Abu Hawam

A small port city, Tell Abu Hawam, existed in the Haifa region in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE).[8] The 6th century BCE Greek geographer Scylax told of a city "between the bay and the Promontory of Zeus" (i.e., the Carmel) which may be a reference to Haifa.[8] By Hellenistic times the city had moved to a new site south of what is now Bat Galim because the port's harbour had become blocked with sand.[8] About the 3rd century CE, the city is first mentioned in Talmudic literature, as a small fishing village and the home of Rabbi Avdimos and other Jewish scholars.[8][14][15] A Greek-speaking population living along the coast at this time was engaged in commerce.[16]

Haifa was located near the town of Shikmona, a center for making the traditional Tekhelet dye used in the garments of the high priests in the Temple. The archaeological site of Shikmona is southwest of Bat Galim.[17] Mount Carmel and the Kishon River are also mentioned in the Bible.[18][19] A grotto on the top of Mount Carmel is known as the "Cave of Elijah", traditionally linked to the Prophet Elijah and his apprentice, Elisha.[18] In Arabic, the highest peak of the Carmel range is called the Muhraka, or "place of burning," harking back to the burnt offerings and sacrifices there in Canaanite and early Israelite times[20]

Early Haifa is believed to have occupied the area which extends from the present-day Rambam Hospital to the Jewish Cemetery on Yafo Street.[21] The inhabitants engaged in fishing and agriculture.[21]

Byzantine, Arab and Crusader rule

Panorama of Haifa at sunrise

Under Byzantine rule, Haifa continued to flourish, although never assumed major importance.[22] In the 7th century, the city was conquered by the Persians. Later the Rashidun Caliphate was established over the Middle East. This brought about developments in the city; in the 9th century under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, Haifa established trading relations with Egyptian ports and the city featured several shipyards. With the Caliphate in control of government and civil administration, Arabs and Jews engaged in trade and maritime commerce, and Haifa again prospered by the 11th century. Glass production and dye-making from marine snails were the city's most lucrative industries.[23]

Prosperity ended in 1100, when Haifa was besieged and blockaded by the Crusaders and then conquered after a fierce battle with its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants.[11][23] Under the Crusaders, Haifa was reduced to a small fishing and agricultural village.[23] It was a part of the Principality of Galilee within the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Following their victory at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin's Ayyubid army captured Haifa in mid-July 1187.[24] The Crusaders under Richard the Lionheart retook Haifa in 1191.[25] The Carmelites established a church on Mount Carmel in the 12th century.[26] Under Muslim rule, the building was turned into a mosque, later becoming a hospital. In the 19th century, it was restored as a Carmelite monastery over a cave associated with Elijah, the prophet.[27]

Mamluk, Ayyubid, Ottoman and Egyptian rule

The city's Crusader fortress was destroyed in 1187 by Saladin.[8] In 1265, the army of Baibars the Mamluk captured Haifa, destroying its fortifications, which had been rebuilt by King Louis IX of France, as well as the majority of the city's homes to prevent the European Crusaders from returning.[28] For much of their rule, the city was desolate in the Mamluk period between the 13th and 16th centuries.[29] Information from this period is scarce.[29] However, during Mamluk rule in the 14th century, al-Idrisi wrote that Haifa served as the port for Tiberias and featured a "fine harbor for the anchorage of galleys and other vessels.[30]

Modern history

Sail Tower

monument to Napoleon's soldiers at Stella Maris Monastery

In 1761 Dhaher al-Omar, a Bedouin ruler of Acre and Galilee, demolished the city and rebuilt Haifa in a new location, fortifying it with a wall.[29][31] This event is marked as the beginning of the town's modern era. After al-Omar's death in 1775, the town remained under Ottoman rule until 1918, with the exception of two brief periods. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Haifa during his unsuccessful campaign to conquer Palestine and Syria, but soon had to withdraw. Between 1831 and 1840, the Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali governed Haifa, after his son Ibrahim Pasha had wrested its control from the Ottomans.[32][33]

19th and early 20th century

German Colony in the 19th century

File:Haifa 1915.JPG

Haifa in 1915

After the Egyptian occupation ended, Haifa grew in population and importance as Acre suffered a decline. In 1854 the population was 2,012 inhabitants; 2,070 Arabs (1,200 Muslims, 870 Christians) and 32 Jews.[34] The arrival of the German Templers in 1868, who settled in what is now known as the German Colony of Haifa, was a turning point in Haifa's development.[33] The Templers built and operated a steam-based power station, opened factories and inaugurated carriage service to Acre, Nazareth and Tiberias, playing a key role in modernizing the city.[35]

The first European Jews arrived at the end of the 19th century from Romania. The Central Jewish Colonisation Society in Romania purchased over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) near Haifa. As the Jewish settlers had been city dwellers, they hired the former fellahin tenants to instruct them in agriculture.[36] In 1909 Haifa became central to the Bahá'í Faith, when the remains of their prophet, the Báb, were moved to Acre and a shrine built on Mount Carmel by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Haifa is thus an important site of worship, pilgrimage and administration for members of the faith. The Bahá'í World Centre (comprising the Shrine of the Báb, terraced gardens and administrative buildings) are all on Mount Carmel's northern slope. Haifa is also important to the Bahá'ís because the founder of the religion, Bahá'u'lláh, had been imprisoned there by the Ottomans.[37] The Bahá'í shrine and gardens are one of Haifa's most visited tourist attractions, and in 2008 were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[6][38]

British Mandate

Buchenwald survivors arrive in Haifa to be arrested by the British, July 15, 1945

At the beginning of the 20th century, Haifa emerged as an industrial port city and growing population center. The Hejaz railway and the Technion were built at this time.[33] Haifa District was then home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants, 96 percent of them Arabs (82 percent Muslim and 14 percent Christian), and four percent Jews. Over the next few decades the number of Jews increased steadily, due to immigration, especially from Europe. By 1945 the population had shifted to 53 percent Arab (33 percent Muslim, 20 percent Christian) and 47 percent Jewish.[39] In 1947 about 70,910 Arabs (41,000 Muslims, 29,910 Christians) and 74,230 Jews were living there.[40] The Christian community were mostly Greek-Melkite Catholics.

1948 War of Independence

Haifa Oil Refinery

The 1947 UN Partition Plan designated Haifa as part of the proposed Jewish state. When the Arab leadership rejected the UN's plan, Haifa did not escape the violence that spread throughout the country. On December 30, 1947, members of the Irgun, a Jewish underground militia, threw bombs into a crowd of Arabs outside the gates of the Consolidated Refineries in Haifa, killing six and injuring 42. In response Arab employees of the company killed 39 Jewish employees in what became known as the Haifa Oil Refinery massacre.[41] The Jewish Haganah militia retaliated with a raid on the Arab village of Balad al-Shaykh, where many of the Arab refinery workers lived, in what became known as the Balad al-Shaykh massacre.[42] Control of Haifa was critical in the ensuing 1948 Palestine War, since it was the major industrial and oil refinery port in British Palestine.[41] British forces in Haifa redeployed on April 21, 1948, withdrawing from most of the city while still maintaining control over the port facilities. Two days later the city was invaded by Jewish forces in Operation Bi'ur Hametz, by the Carmeli Brigade of the Haganah, commanded by Moshe Carmel.[41] The invasion led to a massive displacement of Haifa's Arab population. According to The Economist at the time, only 5,000-6,000 of the city's 62,000 Arabs remained there on October 2, 1948.[43]

Benny Morris and other scholars have said Haifa's Arabs left due to of a combination of Zionist threats and encouragement to do so by Arab leaders, but mainly because of the shelling of Arab villages and neighborhoods. Ilan Pappé writes that the shelling culminated in an attack on a Palestinian crowd in the old marketplace using three-inch mortars on April 22, 1948.[44][45][46] Shabtai Levy, the Mayor of the city, and some other Jewish leaders urged Arabs not to leave, whereas Jewish loudspeakers could be heard in the city ordering Arab residents to leave "before it's too late."[47][48]

Some contemporaneous sources emphasized the Arab leadership as a motivating factor in the refugees' flight. Time Magazine wrote on May 3, 1948: "The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city ... By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa."

Establishment of the State of Israel

Panoramic view of Haifa, with Haifa bay in the background

After the state of Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, Haifa became the gateway for Jewish immigration into Israel. Thousands of immigrants were resettled in Arab houses vacated when Jewish forces invaded. New neighborhoods, among them Kiryat Hayim, Ramot Remez, Ramat Shaul, Kiryat Sprinzak, and Kiryat Eliezer, were built to accommodate them. Bnei Zion Hospital (formerly Rothschild Hospital) and the Central Synagogue in Hadar Hacarmel date from this period. In 1953, a master plan was created for transportation and the future architectural layout.[33]

In 1959, a group of Mizrahi Jews, mostly Moroccans, rioted in Wadi Salib, claiming the state was discriminating against them.[49] Their demand for “bread and work” was directed at the state institutions and what they viewed as an Ashkenazi elite in the Labor Party and the Histadrut.[50]

Tel Aviv gained in status, while Haifa suffered a decline in the role as regional capital. The opening of Ashdod as a port exacerbated this. Tourism shrank when the Israeli Ministry of Tourism placed emphasis on developing Tiberias as a tourist centre.[51]

Nevertheless, by the early 1970s, Haifa's population had reached 200,000. Mass immigration from the former Soviet Union boosted the population by 35,000.[33]

Many of Wadi Salib's historic Ottoman buildings have now been demolished, and in the 1990s a major section of the Old City was razed to make way for the municipal center.[33][50]

In 2006, Haifa was hit by 93 Hezbollah rockets during the conflict with Lebanon, killing eleven civilians and leading to half of the city's population fleeing at the end of the first week of the war.[52] The oil refinery complex was also struck by a rocket.[53]


Haifa today has a population of 266,300. Eighty percent are defined as Israeli Jews. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union constitute 25% of Haifa's population.[54] According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Arab citizens of Israel constitute 9% of Haifa's population, the majority living in Wadi Nisnas, Abbas and Halissa neighborhoods.[54]

Haifa is commonly portrayed as a model of co-existence between Arabs and Jews in Israel, although tensions and hostility do still exist.[55] Several Palestinian organizations have been established to fight perceived discrimination in the allocation of resources, to protest the displacement of the Haifa Arabs whose homes were occupied by Jews, and to halt the destruction of Arab cultural property in the Haifa region.[56]

City of Haifa
Population by year[57][58]
1800 1,000
1840 2,000
1880 6,000
1914 20,000
1922 24,600
1947 145,140
1961 183,021
1972 219,559
1983 225,775
1995 255,914
2005 267,800

Haifa is Israel's third-largest city, consisting of 103,000 households.[3] The city has an aging population compared to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as young people have moved to the center of the country for schooling and jobs, while young families have migrated to bedroom communities in the suburbs.[59]

Religious and ethnic communities

The population of Haifa today is 80% Jewish, 4% Muslim, 6% Christian Arab, and 10% members of other faiths or nonreligious (the vast majority being immigrants from the former Soviet Union). As the Jewish residents age and youth leave the city, the proportion of Christians and Muslims is growing.[59] In 2006, 27% of the Arab population was aged 14 and under, compared to 17% of the Jewish and other population groups. The trend continues in the age 15-29 group, in which 27% of the Arab population is found, and the age 30-44 group (23%). The population of Jews and others in these age groups are 22% and 18% respectively. Nineteen percent of the city's Jewish and other population is between 45 and 59, compared to 14% of the Arab population. This continues with 14% of Jews and others aged 60–74 and 10% over age 75, in comparison to 7% and just 2% respectively in the Arab population.[57]

By national standards, Haifa's Jewish population is relatively secular. In 2006, 2.9% of the Jews in the city were Haredi, compared to 7.5% on a national scale.[57] 66.6% were secular, compared to a national average of 43.7%.[57] A small portion of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union lack official religious-ethnic classification as they are from mixed-marriage families of Jewish origin.[54] In 2008, roughly a quarter of the city's residents were Russian-speaking immigrants.


Haifa is situated on the Israeli Mediterranean Coastal Plain, the historic land bridge between Europe, Africa, and Asia.[60] Located on the northern slopes of Mount Carmel and around Haifa Bay, the city is split over three tiers.[61] The lowest is the center of commerce and industry including the Port of Haifa.[61] The middle level is on the slopes of Mount Carmel and consists of older residential neighborhoods, while the upper level consists of modern neighborhoods looking over the lower tiers.[61] From here views can be had across the Western Galilee region of Israel towards Rosh HaNikra and the Lebanese border.[61] Haifa is about 90 kilometers (55.9 mi) north of the city of Tel Aviv, and has a large number of beaches on the Mediterranean.[62]

Panorama of Haifa. View from Mt. Carmel


Haifa has a mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters (Köppen climate classification Csa).[63] Spring arrives in March when temperatures begin to increase. By late May, the temperature has warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. The average temperature in summer is 26 °C (79 °F) and in winter, 12 °C (54 °F). Snow is rare in Haifa, but temperatures around 6 °C (43 °F) can sometimes occur, usually in the early morning. Humidity tends to be high all year round, and rain usually occurs between October and April. Annual precipitation is approximately 524 millimeters (21 in).

Weather data for Haifa Bay
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26
Average high °C (°F) 18.0
Average low °C (°F) 10.7
Record low °C (°F) -2
Precipitation mm (inches) 175
Source: Temperature - Israel Central Bureau of Statistics[64][65]
Source #2: Precipitation - BBC News[66]


Bat Galim neighborhood

Haifa has developed in tiers, from the lower to the upper city on the Carmel. The oldest neighborhood in the modern Haifa is Wadi Salib, the Old City center near the port, which has been bisected by a major road and razed in part to make way for government buildings. Wadi Salib stretches across to Wadi Nisnas, the center of Arab life in Haifa today. In the 19th century, under Ottoman rule, the German Colony was built, providing the first model of urban planning in Haifa. Some of the buildings have been restored and the colony has turned into a center of Haifa nightlife.[61]


Central Haifa

The first buildings in Hadar were constructed at the start of the 20th century. Hadar was Haifa's cultural center and marketplace throughout the 1920s and into the 1980s, nestled above and around the Haifa's Arab neighborhoods. Today Hadar stretches from the port area near the bay, approximately halfway up Mount Carmel, around the German Colony, Wadi Nisnas and Wadi Salib.[67] Hadar houses two commercial centers (one in the port area, and one midway up the mountain) surrounded by some of the city's older neighborhoods.

Neve Sha'anan, a neighborhood located on the second tier of Mount Carmel, was founded in the 1920s. West of the port are the neighborhoods of Bat Galim, Shikmona Beach, and Kiryat Eliezer. To the west and east of Hadar are the Arab neighborhoods of Abbas and Khalisa, built in the 1960s and 70s.[68] To the south of Mount Carmel's headland, along the road to Tel Aviv, are the neighborhoods of Ein HaYam, Shaar HaAliya, Kiryat Sprinzak and Neve David.

Above Hadar are affluent neighborhoods such as the Carmel Tzarfati (French Carmel), Merkaz HaCarmel, Romema, Carmeliya, Vardiya, Ramat Golda, Ramat Alon and Denya. While there are general divisions between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, there is an increasing trend for wealthy Arabs to move into affluent Jewish neighborhoods.[59] Another of the Carmel neighborhoods is Kababir, home to the National Headquarters of Israel's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community;[68] located near Merkaz HaCarmel and overlooking the coast.

Urban development

A restored Templer building

Recently, residential construction has been concentrated around Kiryat Haim and Kiryat Shmuel, with Template:Convert/m² of new residential construction between 2002–2004, the Carmel, with Template:Convert/m², and Ramot Neve Sha'anan with approximately Template:Convert/m²[69] Non-residential construction was highest in the Lower Town, (90,000 sq m), Haifa Bay (72,000 sq m)) and Ramot Neve Sha'anan (54,000 sq m).[69] In 2004, 80% of construction in the city was private.[69]

The Palace of the Pasha, a Turkish bathhouse, and a Middle Eastern music and dance club in Wadi Salib have been converted into theaters, and offices.[50] The Haifa Economic Corporation Ltd is developing two 1,000 square metre lots for office and commercial use.[70]


The IEC Tower

The phrase "Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv plays" refers to Haifa's reputation as a city of workers.[71] The industrial region of Haifa is in the eastern part of the city, around the Kishon River. Haifa is home to one of the two oil refineries in Israel (the other located in Ashdod). The Haifa refinery processes 9 million tons (66 million barrels) of crude oil a year.[72][73] Its twin 80-meter high cooling towers, built in the 1930s, were the tallest buildings built in the British Mandate period.[74]

Matam (short for Merkaz Ta'asiyot Mada - Scientific Industries Center), the largest and oldest business park in Israel, is at the southern entrance to the city, hosting manufacturing and R&D facilities for a large number of Israeli and international hi-tech companies, such as Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Google, Yahoo!, Elbit, Zoran, Philips, and Amdocs.[75] The campus of the University of Haifa is also home to IBM Haifa Labs.[76]

The Port of Haifa is the leader in passenger traffic among Israeli ports, and is also a major cargo harbor, although deregulation has seen its dominance challenged by the port of Ashdod.[77]

Haifa malls and shopping centers include Hutsot Hamifratz, Horev Center Mall, Panorama Center, Castra Center, Colony Center (Lev HaMoshava), Hanevi'im Tower Mall, Kanyon Haifa, Lev Hamifratz Mall and Grand Kanyon.[78]


Shrine of the Bab and terraces on Mount Carmel

In 2005, Haifa had 13 hotels with a total of 1,462 rooms.[79] The city has 17 kilometres (11 mi) of beaches, 5 kilometres (3 mi).[80] Haifa's main tourist attraction is the Bahá'í World Centre, with the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb and the surrounding gardens. Between 2005 and 2006, 86,037 visited the shrine.[79] The restored German Colony, founded by the Templers, Stella Maris and Elijah's Cave also draw many tourists.[81]

Located in the Haifa district are the Ein Hod artists' colony, where over 90 artists and craftsmen have studios and exhibitions,[82] and the Mount Carmel national park, with caves where Neanderthal and early Homo Sapiens remains were found.[83]

A 2007 report commissioned by the Haifa Municipality calls for the construction of more hotels, a ferry line between Haifa, Acre and Caesarea, development of the western anchorage of the port as a recreation and entertainment area, and an expansion of the local airport and port to accommodate international travel and cruise ships.[84]

Arts and culture

Despite its image as a port and industrial city, Haifa is the cultural hub of northern Israel. During the 1950s, mayor Abba Hushi made a special effort to encourage authors and poets to move to the city, and founded the Haifa Theatre, a repertory theater, the first municipal theater founded in the country.[85] The principal Arabic theater servicing the northern Arab population is the al-Midan Theater. Other theaters in the city include the Krieger Centre for the Performing Arts and the Rappaport Art and Culture Center.[85] The Congress Center hosts exhibitions, concerts and special events.[86]

The New Haifa Symphony Orchestra, established in 1950, has more than 5,000 subscribers. In 2004, 49,000 people attended its concerts.[80][87] The Haifa Cinematheque, founded in 1975, hosts the annual Haifa International Film Festival during the intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday. Haifa has 29 movie theaters.[80] The city publishes a local newspaper, Yediot Haifa,[88] and has its own radio station, Radio Haifa.[89]


National Museum of Science, Haifa

Haifa has over a dozen museums.[80][90] The most popular museum is the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space, which recorded almost 150,000 visitors in 2004. The museum is located in the historic Technion building in the Hadar neighborhood.[91] The Haifa Museum of Art houses a collection of modern and classical art, as well as displays on the history of Haifa.[92] The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art is the only museum in the Middle East dedicated solely to Japanese art.[93] Other museums in Haifa include the Museum of Prehistory, the National Maritime Museum and Haifa City Museum, the Hecht Museum, the Dagon Archeological Museum, the Railway Museum, the Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum, the Israeli Oil Industry Museum, and Chagall Artists' House.[80] As part of his campaign to bring culture to Haifa, Mayor Abba Hushi provided the artist Mane-Katz with a building on Mount Carmel to house his collection of Judaica, which is now a museum.[94]


As an industrial port city, Haifa has traditionally been a Labor party stronghold. The strong presence of dock workers and trade unions earned it the nickname 'Red Haifa.' In addition, many prominent Arabs in the Israeli Communist Party, among them Tawfik Toubi, Emile Habibi, Zahi Karkabi, Bulus Farah and Emile Toma, were from Haifa.

Haifa court building

In recent years, there has been a drift toward the center.[95][96][97] This was best signified by, in the 2006 legislative elections, the Kadima party receiving about 28.9% of the votes in Haifa, and Labor lagging behind with 16.9%.[98]

Before 1948, Haifa's Municipality was fairly unique as it developed cooperation between the mixed Arab and Jewish community in the city, with representatives of both groups involved in the city's management. Under mayor al-Haj, between 1920 and 1927, the city council had six Arab and two Jewish representatives, with the city run as a mixed municipality with overall Arab control. Greater cooperation was introduced under Hasan Bey Shukri, who adopted a positive and conciliatory attitude toward the city's Jews and gave them senior posts in the municipality.[99] In 1940, the first Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, was elected. Levy's two deputies were Arab (one Muslim, the other Christian), with the remainder of the council made up of four Jews and six Arabs.[100]

Today, Haifa is governed by its 12th city council, headed by the mayor Yona Yahav. The results of municipal elections decide on the makeup of the council, similarly to the Knesset elections. The city council is the legislative council in the city, and has the authority to pass auxiliary laws.[101] The 12th council, which was elected in 2003, has 31 members, with the liberal Shinui-Greens ticket holding the most seats (6), and Likud coming second with 5.[102] Many of the decisions passed by the city council are results of recommendation made by the various municipal committees, which are committees where non-municipal organs meet with representatives from the city council. Some committees are spontaneous, but some are mandatory, such as the security committee, tender committee and financial committee.[103]

Mayors of Haifa

Haifa mayor Abba Hushi (1951-1969)

  • Najib Effendi al-Yasin (1873–77)
  • Ahmad Effendi Jalabi (1878–81)
  • Mustafa Bey al-Salih (1881–84)
  • Mustafa Pasha al-Khalil (1885–1903)
  • Jamil Sadiq (1904–10)
  • Rif'at al-Salah (1910–11)
  • Ibrahim al-Khalil (1911–13)
  • Abd al-Rahman al-Haj (1920–27)
  • Hasan Bey Shukri (1914–20, 1927–40)
  • Shabtai Levy (1940–51)
  • Abba Hushi (1951–1969)
  • Moshe Flimann (1969–1973)
  • Yosef Almogi (1974–1975)
  • Yeruham Zeisel (1975–1978)
  • Arie Gur'el (1978–1993)
  • Amram Mitzna (1993–2003)
  • Giora Fisher (interim mayor, 2003)
  • Yona Yahav (2003–present)

Medical facilities

Rambam Medical Center

Haifa medical facilities have a total of 4,000 hospital beds. The largest hospital is the government-operated Rambam Hospital[104] with 900 beds and 78,000 admissions in 2004. Bnai Zion Hospital and Carmel Hospital each have 400 beds. Other hospitals in the city include the Italian Hospital, Elisha Hospital (100 beds), Horev Medical Center (36 beds) and Ramat Marpe (18 beds).[105] Haifa has 20 family health centers.[105] In 2004, there were a total of 177,478 hospital admissions.[105]

Rambam Medical Center was in the direct line of fire during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and was forced to take special precautions to protect its patients.[106] Whole wings of the hospital were moved to large underground shelters.[107]


Technion, called "Israel's MIT"

Haifa is home to two internationally acclaimed universities and several colleges. The University of Haifa, founded in 1963, is at the top of Mt. Carmel. The campus was designed by the architect of Brasilia and United Nations Headquarters in New York, Oscar Niemeyer. The top floor of the 30-story Eshkol Tower provides a panoramic view of northern Israel. The Hecht Museum, with important archeology and art collections, is on the campus of Haifa University.

File:IMG 15351.jpg

Rappaport Faculty of Medicine

The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, described as Israel's MIT, was founded in 1924. It has 18 faculties and 42 research institutes. The original building now houses Haifa's science museum. The first technological high school in Israel, Basmat, was established in Haifa in 1933.[108]

Rabin Building, University of Haifa

Other academic institutions in Haifa are the Gordon College of Education and Sha'anan Religious Teachers' College, the WIZO Design Academy and Tiltan College of Design. The Michlala Leminhal College of Management and the Open University of Israel have branches in Haifa. The city also has a nursing college and the P.E.T Practical Engineering School.[109]

As of 2006–07, Haifa had 70 elementary schools, 23 middle schools, 28 academic high schools and 8 vocational high schools. There were 5,133 pupils in municipal kindergartens, 20,081 in elementary schools, 7,911 in middle schools, 8,072 in academic high schools, 2,646 in vocational high schools, and 2,068 in comprehensive district high schools. 86% of the students attended Hebrew-speaking schools and 14% attended Arab schools. 5% were in special education.[109] In 2004, Haifa had 16 municipal libraries stocking 367,323 books.[80]



A Cable Car descending from Mount Carmel to Bat Galim

Haifa is served by six railway stations and the Carmelit, Israel's only subway system. The NahariyaTel Aviv main line of Israel Railways runs along the coast of the Gulf of Haifa and has six stations within the city. From south-west to north-east, these stations are: Haifa Hof HaCarmel, Haifa Bat Galim, Haifa Merkaz HaShmona, Lev HaMifratz, Hutzot HaMifratz and Kiryat Haim. Together with the Kiryat Motzkin Railway Station in the northern suburb Kiryat Motzkin, they form the Haifa - Krayot suburban line ("Parvarit").[110] There are direct trains from Haifa to Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion International Airport, Nahariya, Akko, Kiryat Motzkin, Binyamina, Lod, Kiryat Gat, Beer Sheva and other locations.

Haifa's intercity bus connections are operated almost exclusively by the Egged bus company, which operates two terminals:

  • HaMifratz Central Bus Station, adjacent to the Lev HaMifratz Railway Station
  • Haifa Hof HaCarmel Central Bus Station, adjacent to the Hof HaCarmel Railway Station

Lines to the North of the country use HaMifratz Central Bus Station and their coverage includes most towns in the North of Israel. Lines heading south use Haifa Hof HaCarmel Central Bus Station.

The Carmelit, Israel's only subway

Destinations directly reachable from Hof HaCarmel CBS include Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, Raanana, Netanya, Hadera, Zikhron Ya'akov, Atlit, Tirat Carmel, Ben Gurion International Airport and intermediate communities. There are also three Egged lines that have their terminus in the Ramat Vizhnitz neighborhood and run to Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Ashdod. These are mehadrin lines.

All urban lines are run by Egged. There are also service taxis that run along some bus routes but do not have an official schedule. In 2006, Haifa implemented a trial network of neighborhood mini-buses – named "Shkhunatit" and run by Egged.[111] In the future, Haifa and the Krayot suburbs will be linked by the Metronit, a Phileas concept bus rapid transit system.[112] Meanwhile, some sections of the Metronit have already been opened and are served by regular Egged buses.

Haifa is one of the few cities in Israel where buses operate on Shabbat.[113] Bus lines operate throughout the city on a reduced schedule from late Saturday morning onwards, and also connect Haifa with Nesher, Tirat Karmel, Yokneam, Nazareth, Nazareth Illit and intermediate communities. Since the summer of 2008, night buses are operated by Egged in Haifa (line 200) and the Krayot suburbs (line 210).[114] During the summer of 2008 these lines operated 7 nights a week. During the winter their schedule is limited to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, making them the only buses in Israel to operate on Friday night. Haifa is also the only city in Israel to operate a Saturday bus service to the beaches during summer time. Egged lines run during Saturday mornings from many neighborhoods to the Dado and Bat Galim beaches, and back in the afternoon.[115]

Headquarters of Egged Bus Company

The Haifa underground railway system is called Carmelit. It is a subterranean funicular on rails, running from downtown Paris Square to Gan HaEm (Mother's Park) on Mount Carmel.[116] With a single track, six stations and two trains, it is listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's shortest metro line. Haifa also has a touristic cable car. The Stella Maris gondola lift cable car consists of six cabins and connects Bat Galim on the coast to the Stella Maris observation deck and monastery atop Mount Carmel; although mainly for tourism purposes.[117]

The Haifa Cable Car serves mainly tourists, running from Bat Galim to the top of Mount Carmel however there are currently plans to expand this, to become an integrated part of Haifa's public transport system running from Check point junction at the foot of Mount Carmel to the Technion, and then onto the University of Haifa.

Air and sea transport

The Port of Haifa

Haifa Airport serves domestic flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as well as international charters to Cyprus. There are currently plans to expand services from Haifa. Cruise ships previously operated from Haifa port to Greece and Cyprus.[113]


Travel between Haifa and the center of the country is possible by road with Highway 2, the main highway along the coastal plain, beginning at Tel Aviv and ending at Haifa.[113] Furthermore, Highway 4 runs along the coast to the north of Haifa, as well as south, inland from Highway 2.[113] In the past, traffic travelling along Highway 2 to the north of Haifa would have to pass through the downtown area of the city, however, the Carmel Tunnels, currently under construction will re-route this traffic through tunnels under Mount Carmel, cutting down on congestion in the down-town area of the city.[118]


Kiryat Eliezer Stadium

The city's two main football clubs are Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Haifa who both currently play in the Israeli Premier League and share the Kiryat Eliezer Stadium as their home pitch. Maccabi has won eleven Israeli titles, whilst Hapoel has won one.

The city has several clubs in the regional leagues, including Beitar Haifa and Hapoel Ahva Haifa in Liga Bet (the fourth tier) and Hapoel Spartak Haifa and Maccabi Neve Sha'anan Eldad in Liga Gimel (the fifth tier).

In 1996, the city hosted the World Windsurfing Championship.[72] The Haifa Tennis Club, near the southwest entrance to the city, is one of the largest in Israel.[119]

Haifa has a professional basketball club, Maccabi Haifa. Maccabi Haifa was recently promoted to Israeli Basketball Super League, the top division. The team plays at Romema Basketball Arena, which seats 3,000.

The main stadiums in Haifa are the 14,000-seat Kiryat Eliezer Stadium and Thomas D'Alesandro Stadium. Neve Sha'anan Athletic Stadium seats 1,000. A UEFA-approved stadium to seat 30,000 is planned for south-west Haifa, due to be completed in 2012.[120]

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Plaque of twin cities outside Haifa city hall

Haifa is twinned or has sister city agreements with the following cities:[121]

  • France Marseille in France (since 1962)
  • United Kingdom Portsmouth in United Kingdom (since 1962) [122]
  • United Kingdom Hackney in United Kingdom (since 1968)
  • Philippines Manila in Philippines (since 1971)[123]
  • United States San Francisco in United States (since 1973)
  • Denmark Aalborg in Denmark (since 1973)
  • South Africa Cape Town in South Africa (since 1975)
  • Germany Bremen in Germany (since 1978)
  • Belgium Antwerp in Belgium (since 1986)
  • Germany Mainz in Germany (since 1987)
  • Russia Saint Petersburg in Russia (since 2008)[124]
  • Germany Düsseldorf in Germany (since 1988)[125]
  • Argentina Rosario in Argentina (since 1988)
  • Ukraine Odessa in Ukraine (since 1992)
  • People's Republic of China Shanghai in China (since 1994)
  • Japan Kobe in Japan (since 2004)
  • United States Boston in United States (since 1999)[126]
  • Cyprus Limassol in Cyprus (since 2000)
  • United States Fort Lauderdale in United States (since 2002)
  • Germany Erfurt in Germany (since 2005)
  • Germany Mannheim in Germany (since 2005)
  • United Kingdom Newcastle in United Kingdom
  • United States West Hartford in United States
  • Dominican Republic Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic

See also

  • List of people from Haifa



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  • (Hebrew) Shiller, Eli & Ben-Artzi, Yossi (1985). Haifa and its sites. Jerusalem: Ariel. 


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External links

Template:Largest Israeli cities

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